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Wednesday December 23rd

Luke 1:46b-55; Mark 11:1-11

God chose to incarnate among us as Holy King, but not in a palace of privilege and excess. God chose to dwell among humanity, but not an heir of material riches; rather, coming as a babe born to a poor virgin girl and into a life of challenge and struggle. Perhaps the sacredness of her time with child girded Mary from judging eyes and prying tongues until the born day. No royal processional or baby shower, no birth dulahs and nursemaids; rather, the arduous travel in the hill country and birth in a cattle trough of a Bethlehem manger. The Hallelujah chorus was not sung to a festooned ticketed audience but to humble shepherds. For unto you a babe is born – Emmanuel!

Hark the Herald angels sing – Glory to the newborn king! God chose not the easy path to help us comprehend the gift and depth of eternal love while humanity preoccupied itself with census compliance for oppressive tax levies… Instead – a paranoid despot, in fear that this newborn king posed a threat, exacted genocide and plunged the region into mourning. Instead – forced exile to Egypt to flee genocide was the first sign that amnesty to immigrants should not be barred by erected walls and ICE deportation. Jesus, Judeo-Palestinian, emigrated back into a society that disdained his pedigree (“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”) and rejected his spiritual legacy (“Who are you?”).

What have we learned this Advent season? As divine will, the divinely perfect chose to enter our lives amid all our imperfections – to show us the perfection embodied in Jesus as God incarnate, the Prince of Peace – Emmanuel! How is it that humanity still preoccupies itself with oppressive forces and still ignores the poor. Instead – can we seek the Giver of Life? Can we dare to proclaim peace, hope, joy and love amid the briars of hateful separatism? Can we raise up the miracle in a manger to boldly proclaim that elitism is not the will of our Holy Creator of justice? Mary believed and birthed Jesus Christ who calls us into a kin-dom of the living God. Hallelujah for hope! Hallelujah for faith! Hallelujah – Jesus lives…

Rev. Dr. Valerie Miles-Tribble is an Associate Professor of Ministerial Leadership & Practical Theology at Berkeley School of Theology. She is also an interim Pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church Oakland.